Researching Yiddish penny songs (tenement song broadsides of theater and variety show songs, 1895-1925)
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Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Mazel darf men hoben - You Need to Have Luck - Yiddish theater song by David Meyerowitz, 1918

In December 1918 David Meyerowitz submitted two songs to the Copyright Office at the same time. Yesterday I posted Shabes far nakht nokh der peyde and this was the other one, which is called on the page that has the musical notes on it (click image for a larger view) Me darf nor mazel huben and on the next page, the lyrics page, Mazel darf men hoben (in standard YIVO transliteration, Mazl darf men hobn)

"Lodzhi" = lodging, it could be the room, it could be the whole apartment where the lodger lives, or a lodging house. Here it is heavily implied that the OTHER boarder is enjoying special privileges due to a special relationship with the landlady. We've seen this before.

Louis Birnbaum, the handsome tenor who recorded these songs, has his name penciled into the upper left-hand corner of the manuscript. Here is his mellifluous lament:



Lyrics after the jump.



Mazl darf men hobn

Amerika iz a land vu yeder iz in shtand
Tsu makhn miznes gor on talant,
Nor der untersheyd is der, eyner vert a milioner
Un a tsveyter shlogt zikh glaykh kop on der vant.
Men darf oykh nit zayn raykh,
Men ken biznes ton a sakh,
Af mortgage un af credit umgefer
Ikh zog aykh kurts un sharf,
Az ales vos men badarf,
Iz mazl take un mazl un nit mer, oy

Me darf nor mazl hobn

Ot voyn ikh bay a froy, ikh mit nokh a boy,
Beyde in eyn room af eyn lodzhi,
Un yener boarder meg oplign gantse teg,
Nor mikh traybt men aroys glaykh in der fri;
Ikh freg ir eygenem man, tsi darf es azoy zayn,
Zol ikh den nit dem zelbn rent vos er?
Zogt er, "Reyd nit azoy hoykh,
Er zolt keyn rent nit oykh,"
Un mir dakht zikh az er krigt nokh esn oykh.

America is a land where everyone can do business completely without talent.
But the difference is that one becomes a millionaire and another just bangs his head against the wall.
You also don't need to be rich, you can safely do lots of business with a mortgage and on credit.
I tell you plainly, all you need is luck, luck and nothing more.

You just need to have luck.

I live here with a lady, me and another boy,
Both in one room in one lodging,
And that boarder can lie around all day, but I get driven out of the house very early in the day.
I ask the landlady's husband if it should be this way,
Should I be paying the same rent as the other boy?
The husband says, "Don't talk so loudly - he doesn't pay any rent."
And it seems to me that he gets to eat, too.


For sheet music and/or performances contact me: jane@mappamundi.com

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